School cameras to grow in Scottsdale - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

School cameras to grow in Scottsdale

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Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 9:30 am | Updated: 2:41 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Delinquent behavior at Scottsdale public schools would be caught more frequently by surveillance cameras under a proposal introduced by school officials on Tuesday.

“The plan is to add them throughout time to all the schools,” said Keith Sterling, Scottsdale Unified School District spokesman.

Administrators unveiled the newly written policy on cameras during Tuesday’s district governing board meeting.

Currently, only Coronado and Desert Mountain high schools, Supai and Mohave middle schools and the district headquarters have security cameras.

School buses also have cameras, which were recently upgraded to store images, as well as send them back to the district’s headquarters.

As each district high school is renovated over the next few years, security cameras will be installed to monitor parking lots and common areas.

The new policy also paves the way for additional cameras at middle and elementary schools.

The governing board will vote on the proposal at its April 11 meeting.

Cameras have been used in other school districts from Fountain Hills to Chandler for years, and middle schools in the Paradise Valley Unified School District have been outfitted with them since 2001.

Administrators said the cameras keep an eye out for vandals and discipline problems.

Board member Karen Beckvar also said cameras can be posted in hard-to-see areas where students could potentially deal or use drugs, tobacco or alcohol.

Mohave Middle School became the most recent Scottsdale school to add cameras. Officials installed nine of them in November after a streak of vandalism left the school marred by broken windows and spray-painted walls.

The electronic eyes were part of a state-funded district plan to improve security around schools.

“Part of the history of this campus is a lot of vandalism, and the district got sick of it,” said Mohave principal Chris Sawyer.

Images from the cameras, which are motion-activated and can see in the dark, can be viewed from the school’s security office.

“It helps with discipline,” said Sawyer, who wants to improve attendance at the school.

The technology became useful on Monday afternoon at Mohave when a group of kids decided to ditch class and leave campus.

“We caught them coming back on campus on cameras, and we knew exactly where they were,” Sawyer said. “All the parents were called and were on campus within 15 minutes.”

At Coronado, cameras have helped thwart delinquent behavior, such as when a student attempted to steal money from a vending machine, Sterling said.

Supai principal Dan Cooper said the cameras, coupled with motion-sensor lights, are a deterrent to vandalism.

But the cameras aren’t a cure-all: Last weekend, for example, vandals hit Mohave in an area the cameras couldn’t cover.

“We have a lot of nooks and crannies on our campuses that, hopefully, we’re eliminating as we redesign,” Beckvar said. “Having been on campus during lunch hours, I’ve watched kids roam and hide behind buildings.”

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